PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team is ready for its biggest challenge of the season.
The Cardinals play at No. 2-ranked Amherst College at 4 p.m. today in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Plattsburgh (20-8), which received an at-large berth in the tournament, advanced to the round of 32 with last Saturday’s 84-63 home win over Husson College at Memorial Hall. The Lord Jeffs (25-2), meanwhile, had a bye in the opening round.
Amherst has more things working in its favor, but Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle said his team welcomes the challenge.
“We’re a pretty good team,” he said. “We recruit kids who have played a high level of basketball in front of large crowds. I expect us to respond well and not back away from the challenge.
“Our players need to relish the opportunity. We’ve been to the NCAA Tournament five times since I’ve been here and we have a pretty successful program. But this is a chance for our players to get national recognition and I don’t believe we’re going to get rattled.”
The Lord Jeffs are ranked behind only St. Thomas (26-1) in Division III.
Amherst went 10-0 in NESCAC play and won its conference tournament with wins over Colby (83-52) in the quarterfinals, Tufts (80-64) in the semifinals and a hard-earned victory over Williams (74-73) in the title game.
Williams, which is also ranked in the top 10 in the country, has a 24-4 record and three of the losses are to Amherst. Williams received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and won its first-round game.
The Lord Jeffs are shooting 49 percent from the field, 39 percent from 3-point range and 74 percent from the foul line. They are averaging 83.8 points a game and surrendering 68.7 per contest.
Amherst is big, with two 6-9 players and two others at 6-7.